(Image: AAP/James Ross)

LAUDABLE OR “LAUGHABLE”?

Queensland’s newly appointed Treasurer, Cameron Dick, has announced that state-owned Queensland Investment Corporation will make an official bid for a stake in Virgin Australia, to take the form of a direct equity stake, a loan, a guarantee or another financial incentive, the ABC reports.

While Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton described the move as “laughable” — and the state government as “corrupt and chaotic” — it has been welcomed by politicians on both ends of the spectrum, including federal Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume and Queensland’s sole Greens MP Michael Berkman.

The news comes as investment firms Brookfield, BGH Capital and Bain Capital emerge as the three frontrunners ahead of Friday’s deadline for non-binding initial offers for the company, The New Daily reports.

SPEAKING OF CHAOTIC: Dutton has had less success with his own aviation scheme, after the threat of a Nationals revolt forced the Coalition to overhaul cost recovery arrangements under his security screening plan for regional airports, The Guardian reports.

AUSPOL IS BACK

The first day of federal parliament since cases started significantly dropping was dominated by debate about JobKeeper; Labor and the Greens failed to expand the scheme to universities, but Scott Morrison did pledge at least some version of it will survive until September, The Australian ($) reports.

In other day-one highlights:

  • Scott Morrison argued the only “authority” Bridget McKenzie sought during the sports rort saga related to announcements, not grant decisions (ABC);
  • Because Australia somehow doesn’t have enough mass surveillance lawsPeter Dutton has introduced legislation that would allow ASIO to question 14-year-olds and use tracking devices without a warrant (The Guardian); and
  • The Australian Office of Financial Management reported a record $19 billion for April’s ten-and-a-half-year debt offering (AFR $).

PS: Sport Australia has told the Senate inquiry that, effectively, McKenzie piggybacked off its own authority to make the $141 million in sports grants, The Guardian reports.

STATE WRAP

The NSW government has announced that pubs and clubs will be allowed to reopen attached restaurants and cafes when state restrictions ease on Friday, the ABC reports. They will, however, have to stick to the 10 patrons or fewer rule.

The ACT, which will create similar 10 or fewer rules on Friday, will allow playgrounds and parks to reopen from midnight, and limited library services to resume from Monday, May 18.

Victoria has announced a $150 million experience economy survival package to support sporting clubs and competitions — “from grassroots to elite” — as well as major tourist attractions, galleries and museums, live music workers and the racing industry.

Victoria also outlined a $3.7 million energy counselling package, designed to fund new financial counsellors and online training for more than 1,100 frontline community workers who will provide immediate electricity and gas management support.

Similarly, Western Australia has announced a $10.4 million tourism recovery fund, offering one-off grants for tourism operators to assist in adapting to post-pandemic conditions.

Tasmania has announced that trials for all three racing codes, along with new operating procedures, will resume from Monday, May 18.

Finally, the Queensland government announced that outback pubs and clubs will receive more than 3,000 litres’ worth of free XXXX GOLD ahead of reopening this weekend.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Reading through some of the recent comments made by Senator [Kristina] Keneally, I can only assume she has spent much of her time in quarantine reading through my speeches from 1996.

Pauline Hanson

The Shadow Home Affairs Minister’s dalliance with linking immigration to low wages gets the thumbs-up from a politician who called Islam a “disease” just three years ago. Congrats, I guess?

CRIKEY RECAP

Parrot Droppings redux: Crikey’s role in the rise and fall of Alan Jones

“Long time media watchers still fondly talk about the regular Parrot Droppings columns which ran from 2002 until 2004 in Crikey and chronicled the shock jock’s performances in the period after he’d survived the cash for comment scandals, saw his beloved 2UE radio station bought by the southerners who owned 3AW for $90 million, and then famously defected to Singo and 2GB in March 2002.”


Government ducks the real question: what to do about the snapback to stagnation?

Josh Frydenberg should have saved himself the inconvenience of a few hours in isolation and issued yesterday’s ‘ministerial statement on the economy’ as a media release.

“It added little to his rather uninformative speech last week, except for some economic forecasts that boldly went all the way to the end of June, a mere six weeks away.”


Tale of three leaders: listen carefully and you can hear the sound of politics

“If you observe closely enough, you can detect the underlying truth in the responses of even the most practised politicians. This week delivered an instructive example.

Scott Morrison, Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews were each asked, naturally enough, what they thought about Sydney and Melbourne’s eye-catching protests of a loose coalition of anti-lockdown, anti-vaccination, anti-Bill Gates and apparently anti-personal hygiene activists.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Flipping a coin’: COVID-19 antibody tests ‘should not be used’

More than half of Australians with symptoms not tested for COVID-19

Coronavirus: Australian Workers Union backs Morrison on China ($)

Hackers target WA’s major daily newspaper, putting data of subscribers at risk

Concern as China targets Pacific mobile networks ($)

Mark McGowan offers to help Scott Morrison smooth tensions between Australia and China amid trade war fears

ICAC funding ‘unlawful’ and puts independence at risk: legal advice

Shorten washes hands of isolation for birthday party ($)

WorkSafe launches investigation into Cedar Meats COVID-19 outbreak

Norway’s giant oil fund ditches stake in Australia’s AGL over fossil fuel concerns

Over 300 lawmakers worldwide urge IMF, World Bank to cancel poor countries’ debt

THE COMMENTARIAT

New ASIO law one more step towards a totalitarian stateGreg Barns (The Sydney Morning Herald): “With Federal Parliament flat out dealing with the social and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is hardly the right time for a government to introduce legislation giving ASIO the power to question 14-year-old children, interfere with the rights of legal advisers, and enable the tracking of individuals without the need for a warrant. But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has no such qualms.”

Time to reset Australia’s relationship with China ($) — George Christensen (The Courier Mail): “Alarm bells rang throughout Canberra and Australian industry in late April, when communist China’s ambassador to Australia Jingye Cheng raised the spectre of a Chinese boycott of Australian exports. Sadly, some of those alarm bells were sounding to warn off further criticism of the so-called People’s Republic of China.”

Never let a crisis go to waste: caring for country and community during a pandemicDeclan Fry (Meanjin): “In my dream scenario (and I emphasise the word dream here), the government would take the collapse in oil prices as an opportunity to phase out fossil fuel subsidies ($29 billion annually, according to the IMF). The money would then be invested into assisting those most at risk from the pandemic.”

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s trade with Pacific Island countries will hear from the Institute for International Trade and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Perth

  • A report into Pinjin Station — specifically the granting of mining licences to Hawthorn Resources and allegations of intimidation, abuse and racial discrimination towards the Aboriginal owners of a neighbouring pastoral station — will be tabled in parliament.

New Zealand

  • Finance Minister Grant Robertson will deliver the 2020 New Zealand budget.